Tonight’s Council COW: City’s Glass Half-Empty On Labor And Retail


As we’ve repeatedly pointed out in past posts, our various branches of local government always seem to be overmatched when collectively bargaining with the unions that represent most of our public employees.

Tonight the Park Ridge City Council Committee of the Whole (“COW”) is scheduled to discuss City Mgr. Shawn Hamilton’s Agenda Cover Memorandum on the current state of the City’s labor negotiations and unfair labor practice charges.  A review of that report suggests that the City is not even close to getting its labor costs and bargaining practices under control – or establishing a workable, pro-active plan for getting the taxpayers fair value for those ever-rising labor costs.

The report starts with the Local 150 Operating Engineers (“OEs”) contract, which passed the Council by a 4-3 vote but was then vetoed by Mayor Dave Schmidt because he wasn’t convinced that the promised health insurance savings promised by the OEs would actually be realized.  While we await the vote to sustain or overturn Schmidt’s veto, the City’s labor attorneys – Robert Smith and his Rosemont firm of Clark Baird Smith, LLP – continue to battle the OEs on two related unfair labor practice charges before an Illinois Labor Relations Board administrative law judge.

Unfortunately, these ULPs tend to be decided in favor of the unions because the vast majority of the ALJs who decide them are pro-union lawyers placed on the state payroll by the clout of the ruling Democrats who need to keep the public-sector unions happy.  Chalk that up as yet another cost of one-party rule in Illinois for the past 30+ years.

But that doesn’t mean the City should just roll over any time the unions beef about something – even in a situation such as this one, where it looks and sounds like either the City’s crack negotiating team was asleep at the wheel when it came time for properly documenting the “deal” it claims it obtained from the OEs, or it simply got suckered and slickered by its union counterpart.

The report also talks about the upcoming firefighters contract negotiations.  The City’s negotiating team will once again be headed by Fire Chief Mike Zywanski, which is like giving the firefighters union an extra negotiator and a blank check.  Chief Z is the guy who proposed those secretive negotiating “Ground Rules” a few years ago, then didn’t have the basic integrity even to raise his hand and admit he did it when Schmidt asked who was responsible for agreeing to something so stupid.

All of this, however, is just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

So long as the City continues to go along with a process where it budgets arbitrary amounts of tax dollars with the expectation of raises and benefit increases, then sits back and waits for the unions’ arbitrary and excessive demands, it will continue to commit increasingly more funding for services that are neither more numerous nor better than what is currently being provided.

That’s because the unions and the employees they represent don’t care about greater productivity, greater efficiency, or better service.  The last thing they want is raises and benefit increases tied to such measures.  So each negotiation starts off with a set of union demands that have no basis in anything but the unions’ wish list.

Their goal, at a minimum, is to lock in what amounts to cost-of-living allowances (“COLAs”) which are intended to do nothing more but make taxpayers the guarantors of the purchasing power of these employees’ wages.  If the price of gasoline, or milk, or housing, or anything else included in the Consumer Price Index goes up, these unions want to make sure their members get enough additional money to cover those increases.

How many private-sector Park Ridge taxpayers get such COLAs?  We’re betting not many.

But when it comes to being lost in the funhouse regarding labor costs, the City isn’t just clueless with unionized employees.  It may also be an equal-opportunity bungler when it comes to non-union staffing, as has been the case with the various raises it has given those employees with no thought to greater productivity, efficiency or value.

And yet another example of that is on tonight’s COW agenda under “Economic Development Coordinator proposal,” which gets its own City Mgr. Memorandum to explain why the City needs to create a new position of highly-questionable worth.

Hamilton spends six paragraphs positively gushing over all the miracles – “grow our business tax base,” “reduce the property tax dependency of our residents,” and create “the competitive advantage the City can realize” – an $80,000/year ED coordinator will perform.  Not surprisingly, he offers no business plan or any metrics for evaluating the success or failure of this new incarnation of a position that was eliminated back in 2010 because it produced little beyond a $120,000/year expense.

Sadly, that’s the kind of lightweight work product we’ve come to expect from Hamilton, for whom we and other Park Ridge residents had so much hope when he was hired back in the summer of 2012.  The only redeeming quality of his latest brainchild is that it will cost the taxpayers $40,000 less than its predecessor.

Hamilton actually may have been out-gushed, however, by the president of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce, whose letter predicts even more miracles from the new ED coordinator, including “more long-awaited shopping, dining, and service options for Park Ridge residents” that will “improve the attractiveness of Park Ridge as a place to buy a home.”  And it that’s not enough, the Chamber pres suggests that when the new coordinator isn’t busy shilling for the business community he/she can also help people “find the [social] services they need.”

Brilliant!  The position hasn’t even been created yet, but the Chamber is already advocating a kind of mission-creep which can be used to justify the employee’s retention if/when he/she fumbles the primary economic development task.

We suspect neither Hamilton nor the Chamber want the taxpayers to think about how, despite not having any such ED employee on the City’s payroll for the past four years, Park Ridge was able to land a Whole Foods, a Mariano’s, a Chipotle, a Jersey Mike’s, and other businesses, the cumulative total of which absolutely dwarfs anything any City ED employee or department have generated in more than a decade.  Nor do they want the taxpayers to realize what a joke the Chamber has become at actually promoting Park Ridge as a viable business community.

At least not until after the new ED coordinator position is approved.

To read or post comments, click on title.

29 comments so far

I agree with you both on needing to become proactive on paying for value, not just COLA, and on no need for another economic development person. To your point made many times before, Park Ridge is not secret and anybody who thinks they can make a buck here will find it, just like Whole Foods, Mariano’s, Chipotle, Houlihan’s, Oberweis, 5-Guys, etc.

I am hoping by “the chamber” you include a big shout out to Mayor Dave. The following is taken directly from his website (campaign 2 edition) under the issues tab, economic development.

“…..I was opposed to the former City Manager’s decision to eliminate the position of Economic Development Director. That action led to two years of wasted time as the City’s staff largely ignored Economic Development and the business community. That failing is one major reason why the City Manager was replaced. I recognized the need for a renewed focus on Economic Development at the staff level by seeking a new City Manager who had a private sector and finance background. The new City Manager and I agree that it is appropriate to make an investment in an economic development/marketing professional to serve as a liaison between existing businesses and the City staff and to help market the City to new businesses”.

Hell, if the Mayor was for a director he has to be for a coordinator, right?? Maybe this coordinator is the development/marketing professional the Mayor references.

PD, I agree about Hamilton having a lack of a business plan. Perhaps the Mayor has one considering he appears to be on the record as being on board. Apparently he was thing about this all along so he must have “the plan”.

Lastly, is there a list available for all the things Hamilton has done related to economic development since taking the position of CM?? What exactly has he done at a staff level (or otherwise) that has resulted in a “renewed focus”?? Has there even been a renewed focus at a staff level or otherwise?? The Mayor says two years were wasted by eliminating the director position. What did not get done and what has now been done to make up for it?? Anyone??

EDITOR’S NOTE: To our knowledge, Mayor Schmidt is not a member of the Chamber. But irrespective of that fact, the bottom line is that Schmidt was wrong when he said that, and he is wrong now if he still believes an $80,000/year – or $120,000/year – bureaucrat is going to bring businesses to Park Ridge that wouldn’t otherwise find their way here.

To our knowledge, Hamilton has done nothing concerning business development, which is fine by us because he seems to have all he can handle just doing the adminstrative things a city manager must do.

This goes back to your point that nobody knows how to play this game. You are right when you say that the City should be pressing the unions on what increase in productivity, if any, their members are providing for the increased salaries they demand, and then publicizing that lack of productivity increase.

And I agree completely that the City must sell itself. If somebody who can’t see the opportunities presented by our location and our demographics, then no bureaucrat at any price will be able to sell them on Park Ridge.

So you hammer Hamilton for essentially doing what he said he was going to do way back at the beginning. He may have even discussed this in the interview process for all we know. I would hope one of the questions the Mayor asked was related to business development. I mean the Mayor very clearly stated…..”The new City Manager and I agree that it is appropriate to make an investment in an economic development/marketing professional to serve as a liaison between existing businesses and the City staff and to help market the City to new businesses”……CLEARLY AGREE…..apparently they discussed this position a long time ago!!

You state Hamilton has done nothing (and I agree)related to related to one of the “major reasons” the Mayor said he picked him (renewed focus at a staff level). If this was one of the major reasons you would think the Mayor would be monitoring progress in this area or things Hamilton might be working on.

So you write a pieces that hammers Hamilton and “the chamber” on this issue yet, considering the information stated above, fails to even mention good ole’ Mayor Dave???

EDITOR’S NOTE: The creation of the new ED coordinator position failed by a 4 (Alds. Smith, Knight, Mazzuca and Maloney) – 2 (Alds. Milissis and Shubert), and our sources tell us Mayor Dave did not speak in favor of it. So maybe he has learned something about attracting business from the Whole Foods and Mariano’s experiences.

Meanwhile, Hamilton still seems over his skis, but not smart enough to recognize and/or admit it.

“Playing the game”, I guess like supporting key city council members and getting $4000 for plaques. Disgraceful. That $4000 for the Historical crew of Barclay and Adlaf is way worse than “food for fines” or the Maine Township car donation. In fact, put the $4000 towards the ED position, because at least it may bear some fruit versus plaques for old buildings.
I guess this historical society stuff at the parks and now the city is “my special interest is in power” so that’s where I’ll float some dough.

The Park Ridge Chamber is impotent in advocating for businesses in town as they are in swaying city council to do anything. It seems their agenda is to be a club, not to actually succeed in promoting business in Park Ridge.
I guess the chamber does have an ED problem.

EDITOR’S NOTE: All that happened at the March 19th budget workshop is that Ald. Shubert, the Council’s liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, conveyed the Commmission’s request for an appropriation for such plaques.

We believe $4,000 – or even $1 – of City funds for plaques to be installed on private buildings is RIDICULOUS! But it is NOT “worse” than FFF or the truck donation to Maine Twp., if only because the plaques are going on Park Ridge buildings, and only on Park Ridge buildings – unlike the FFF and truck whose benefits can and will extend beyond City limits.

That being said, we repeat: $4,000 of public funds for plaques on private houses is RIDICULOUS! And we trust that when the budget gets finalized next month, those plaques will not be part of it.

Gee, why no “address” on his change of mind?? I mean we have the veto address and the non veto address. How about the “I know I said this while running for office and I know I picked this guy but now I am quietly bailing” address.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re joking, right? Because even somebody who won’t sign their name can’t be THAT stupid.

If you do not like anon posters the solution is simple. Don’t accept them. Of course thAt would mean that all the posts (not just my 3) would not have made the board.

As to am I joking…..of course I was joking….caustic…sarcastic…you pick. What I am trying to do is at least point out the Mayor’s involvement in this whole mess. You write a pice hammering the creation of a position the Mayor supported, submitted by a guy the Mayor picked. I think it is important that the ‘Mayor not get off completely on this which is what happened in your piece.

You love to point out the Mayor saving us from the council with his veto. In this case it would appear the council saved us from something that the mayor supports.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mayor’s involvement is basically limited to hiring Hamilton, because as of this time there is no indication that the Mayor currently supports the creation of that position.

But even if the Mayor still did and Hamilton felt compelled to mindlessly go along with that program, his Memorandum is such a pathetic product that he should have been too embarrassed to even submit it. Maybe that quality of work product explain why he’s no longer in the private sector.

Council Watcher,

You are absolutely right in regards to the Chamber. My experience working for a member business of the CoC a few years ago was during the period where Gail Haller (currently Executive Director) had a policy of actively discouraging people to patronize non-Chamber businesses. Obviously in an environment like that you have businesses joining less in expectation for benefits and more as a form of protection or damage control, which I thought was sickening at the time.

They are supposedly trying to be “more inclusive” under more recent presidents, but it’s obvious they don’t want to actually have to do the promotional work themselves, even after accepting dues, hence the dramatic support of the EDC position.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And why the Chamber supported the facade improvement program, and panted like an overheated dog about the Uptown TIF.

The Mayor put all that can-do doo-doo about econ development in his campaign speeches because he didn’t know then that he would win by more than 60 percent. Since the election was so overwhelming in his favor, he understands that a majority of voters obviously do not care about or believe in economic development except for the laissez-faire kind. So he doesn’t have to continue the facade, so to speak. Too bad for the array of sillies who participated in the Economic Development Task Force; their work has gone entirely unimplemented as well, including deliverables that normally would be billable at significant rates but were donated. Oh, well; there’s another hopeless cause around the next corner. As to the Chamber, at no time was there an active discouragement toward patronizing non-members. What there may have been was a prioritizing of recommending/featuring/promoting members. While all retailers want comprehensive, turnkey marketing for free from their local Chambers, it makes sense that membership has its privileges. Non-members of the local Chamber are all seen as potential members and are invited to all Chamber activities, educational programs, networking events, etc. at a nominally higher fee. That, too, I’m sure you will agree is fair. Think of it as a non-resident’s fee and it will be more palatable, perhaps. At least to you, if not to them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We suspect that, like us (as expressed in our 08.04.11 post) and other pro-retail Park Ridgians, Mayor Schmidt hoped that an Economic Development Task Force could come up with some novel and economical ways to jump-start retail when he came up with the idea back in 2011. But then, perhaps, he realized how out-to-lunch too many members of that Task Force were when they barbecued the Council for not rolling over and giving Whole Foods and its developer, Lance Chody, a couple of million dollars of tax revenue sharing (as we wrote about in our 05.21.12 post).

So when the EDTF finally came up with its 14-page report which mostly regurgitated and rehashed many of the failed ideas from the past 20 years, especially ones that could cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses (like another facade improvement program, as we wrote about in our 02.26.13 post), maybe Schmidt concluded that many/most of those EDTF folks had their heads planted firmly in their derrieres and had no clue about how to draw quality retail to Park Ridge.

Or maybe not.

Why does park ridge need more retail? I’d rather see more condos and homes. This is a bedroom community and I prefer it stay that way. I can go to any store I want in a 5 minutes drive to rosemont, niles, des plaines, or heaven forbid, chicago. What other retail would even be useful? We have plenty of grocery. The dining options are underpatronized patronized as is, save for a few chains downtown or on busy roads. How about instead of saying “we need more retail” we actually think about what retail stores we actually need?…..

EDITOR’S NOTE: Why does Park Ridge need more condos…or homes? Is there some reason why you think we need 40,000 people?

As we’ve repeatedly noted, retail – and restaurants – will find its way to Park Ridge if it sees a good market and reasonable expenses for whatever is being sold. That’s why all the Uptown TIF folks who gushed over Barnes & Noble, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Ann Taylor, etc. a decade ago were spitting into the wind, as was mayoral candidate Larry Ryles and the Economic Development Task Force members more recently.

11:35, you say “laissez-faire” as if it is a bad thing, which says a lot more about your perspective than it does about Mayor Schmidt or the people who voted for him. Should economic development only be celebrated when the CoC, the ED Task Force, Larry Ryles or a bureaucrat making $80K+ per year can pretend to take credit for it?

The fact that Schmidt has not had to do any cheerleading or corporate bribing and we still got a laundry list of big retailers in the last year is a very good lesson in how free-market capitalism should work. One of the line items in the 14-page EDTF report was $20,000 for an incentive package for new and current businesses. Considering all those new businesses moved in with no incentives and that the EDTF was composed of owners of already existing businesses, those “sillies” “work” seems more to me like an attempt at taxpayer handouts for their already established businesses. Would I have gotten a special discount as a customer for helping pay for their new facade?

On the same note, spending an additional $20,000 (also recommended in the report) to update the city’s website and social media sounds like an attempt at taxpayer subsidized advertising for private businesses. As a resident I frequently use the city’s website and have never found it in need of drastic upgrades for my purposes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly! And let’s not forget just what a bang-up job the facade improvement of the former “Pines” building did for that business.

3:26, I agree with you about retail. With the recent influx of high-end grocery chains and upscale fast food the market in those sectors seems completely saturated. The only thing that could disrupt things a bit would be a chef-driven restaurant with entrees in the $20-30 range, but places like that rarely do well in the suburbs. If the talent is there, they are much better off just opening in the West Loop or Logan Square. I have no problem making the drive into the city when I want to eat at a Boka Group/Brendan Sodikoff/Donnie Madia restaurant and frankly I sometimes I feel like I save money, or at least get more value for my money, than at some of the local options.

However, I do see a demand for more upscale rentals (more so than more condos), so the proposed apartment complex on Touhy next to Whole Foods might do very well when you consider how dated most of the other apartments up and down Touhy and Busse are.

I suppose the real question is what other big fish can possible move in to town? Another car dealership? Apparently we are getting a Charles Schwab in the old Amphora location, which to me is another failure of the TIF to fullfill its promoises. Whether or not the other empty storefronts on NW Hightway, Prospect or Main will be filled anytime soon, seems like small potatoes to me…

Your ignorant assessment of economic development initiatives (I think the word is “proven,” not “failed”)is unbecoming, but not worth discussing any further. You and the other NIMBYs and NOTEs won; the $80K is safe in the coffers and the tax burden remains squarely on the homeowners and condo owners. Satisfied? Or not until public works is handled the way holiday lights are; by whatever Boy Scouts are hanging around Subway?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course: “[N]ot worth discussing” because you can’t defend the same old failed strategies that the EDTF came up with and wanted the taxpayers to fund.

Those EDTF clowns – yes, CLOWNS – actually ripped Ald. Jim Smith and then-Ald. Sal Raspanti for killing any chance the City had of getting a Whole Foods when the Council, with Mayor Schmidt’s encouragement, refused to bribe developer Chody with a $2 million tax revenue sharing deal. A mere two weeks later those CLOWNS were proved totally wrong when Chody agreed to do the deal without the $2 million bribe.

There’s still $30 or $40k in the budget for Mr City Manager to do SOMETHING re economic development.
It’s been there for nearly a year.
What’s he been waiting for???

EDITOR’S NOTE: His first-ever good idea?

Leaving aside the question of whether we really need five or six major supermarkets in a town of 36,000 people; as you once memorably said, you have to sell a hell of a lot of wasabi mayonnaise to equal the sales tax on one car. And if Whole Foods had NOT come in without an incentive/bribe or whathaveyou, you would be just as sanguine, because the bottom line is: you don’t shop, and therefore shopping isn’t needed. Whatever happens, happens; as long as no money is spent, it’s all good. We get that this is your opinion and obviously a lot of other residents’ as well. If they are happy with no money for sewers because we can’t squeeze much more blood from the turnips we call residents, oh, well. The important thing is not to tinker with the invisible hand, right?

EDITOR’S NOTE: First of all, we’ve only got 3: Jewel, Whole Foods and Mariano’s. But “whether we really need five or six major supermarkets in a town of 36,000 people” – or too many Starbuck’s, gas stations or sushi restaurants – is exactly the wrong question, because the retailers who think they can make a buck in Park Ridge will come here; and those who don’t, like car dealers and all the retailers that the Uptown TIF was supposed to attract, won’t.

We didn’t get “money for sewers” by spending tens of millions of dollars on the Uptown TIF, or spending a hundred thousand dollars on facade improvement, or $120K/year on an economic development director for several years. So much for “tinker[ing] with the invisible hand.”

For the record: Houlihan’s, Five Guys, and Oberweis all moved in before the Economic Development Director position was eliminated, and Chipotle had been working with that office to find a location for many months at the time.

It’s fine if your political beliefs lead you to the conclusion that economies develop magically even if our surrounding cities professionally market themselves while Park Ridge doesn’t, but it damages your argument to cite events that happened while there was an Economic Development Director as evidence that we’re doing fine without one.

The fact is that surrounding communities are employing staff members whose job it is to make their cities look more appealing to businesses than ours. Whether you think that is a good use of public funds or not doesn’t change the landscape of competition out there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[E]vents that happened while there was an Economic Development Director” aren’t events that happened BECAUSE of the EDD. But if you want to give her credit for those businesses, then doesn’t she also get demerits for losing Napleton Cadillac (and replacing it with no retail) and the other businesses that closed during her tenure?

We have been following economic development in Park Ridge since 1990, and we have yet to see the $120K/year EDD or the approx. $40K/year public/private Economic Development Corporation produce any significant retail gains. And that includes the tens of thousands of “facade improvement” dollars given to the owner of the building that used to house Pines.

The fact is that “surrounding communities” [may be] employing staff members whose job it is to make their cities look more appealing to businesses than ours,” but we haven’t seen any indication that they’re doing any better than we are – once you take away inherent advantages like larger tracts of open/undeveloped land, or more major accessways.

03.25.14 8:23 pm: If the Council had done what the Economic Development Task Force members wanted, the City would be out-of-pocket the $2 million that now can be used for sewers.


I’m sure Trader Joe’s likes being left out of your list of supermarkets. Did you ignore them because they’re in the TIF district and you are committed to its failure in perpetuity?
And will the $2 mill be used for sewers? Only thinking about next quarter’s results is what got us into this mess; that, and a little thing called Baldaccino’s lawsuit to stop the TIF build-out that went on for ages at a pivotal time, followed immediately by the Recession. You may have read about the latter in the WSJ. Park Ridge will enter the 20th century sometime before the 21st is over; until then, keep buying that gasoline so you can shop where there is shopping.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Trader Joe’s is NOT a “supermarket” – as anybody who has visited it and also visited Jewel, Whole Foods and Mariano’s can attest: TJ’s breadth and depth of selections (e.g., its lack of entire aisles of the products the other three sell) alone makes any comparison ridiculous.

The TIF is doing well enough in failing on its own, without our help.

As for the Baldacchino lawsuit, that’s the same old lame and fraulent alibi that Howard Frimark and the pro-TIF public officials who screwed the City on that deal ginned up years later when the economic failure was becoming clearer. Baldacchino failed to get an injunction but, nevertheless, the City Council twice (or more) guaranteed PRC’s financing so that the project could move forward without delay.

I get everyone wants to jump on the “spend no money ever” bandwagon”, since this forum has many people who subscribe to that philosophy. However, this idea isn’t black and white. Park Ridge is behind others in not having this position.

1. Disclaimer (not a pro-TIF comment): Without the TIF there would be no Houlihans and all said businesses in area. Probably not a Whole Foods either. I love how people with no knowledge of retail love to pretend they know why/why not businesses choose locations. I’m not TIF fan, but facts are facts.

2. The rest of the world believes that Marketing works. Ever see a Budweiser or Coke commercial? I mean “everyone knows” they exist as one commenter says. But Park Ridge, is too good for marketing, unless it’s with plaques non-significant buildings. Never over-estimate that corporations or businesses are that savvy that they do not need an introduction or push.

3. The Editor mentions Pines going out of business…how long has probably the most premier store-front in Park Ridge been empty? Of course there are various reasons, but let’s not sit here and continue the happy dance that is being alluded too.

4. The Mayor campaigned on the ED position. So is this a broken promise or a lie?

5 “Bedroom Community”- WTF is that. Yaaayy more apartments!
Nothing seems more ignorant or elite than the “bedroom community” comment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 1. And without the TIF the City wouldn’t be $6 million in the hole heading for $20+ million by the end of the TIF’s 23-year term. As for Whole Foods, this editor talked to both the manager and the regional manager prior to opening and they said they didn’t expect any traffic from the Uptown TIF because Whole Foods considers itself the “destination” store.

2. You’ve GOT it! A 30-second national t.v. spot for Park Ridge on the next Super Bowl! Why didn’t the EDTF think of that?

3. Talk to any commercial RE agent in the City and they will tell you the rent is too steep but the building’s not for sale – at least as of 5-6 weeks ago.

4. We’d call it a wising-up.

5 Yeah, Park Ridge isn’t a “bedroom community” – just look at all its heavy industry, high-tech manufacturing, shopping mega-malls and auto dealerships.


The 2 mil will go to Burke Engineering.


We do not know the answer to your question number 4. The Mayor has not commented or written in any way (he sure loves to be heard on other issues) about what he CLEARLY stated in writing in the campaign versus what happened in the recent council meeting.

He has just quietly backed away to watch PD beat on the CM, for requesting a position the HE (the Mayor) supported, and the EDTF that HE (the Mayor) appointed. But of course you will note that the Mayor is barely even mentioned.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve looked and we can’t find any evidence of the mayor ever endorsing an $80K/year economic development coordinator; or ANY economic development employee whatsoever since Whole Foods opened. But since all that happened “in the recent council meeting” was that a 4-2 majority voted NOT to include that position in the budget, there was no “final” action; no tie for the mayor to break; and nothing for him to veto.

And we’ll stand by our comment that Hamilton’s memorandum recommendation of the creation and funding of the position was so vapid as should have been embarrassing to somebody holding the position he holds at the salary he draws. At least that 14-page comic book of a report the EDTF cranked out over a 1-year period didn’t cost the taxpayers $150K.

The other absurd brand of logic that all these pro-ED position people are engaging in is thinking that the law of diminishing returns doesn’t apply to PR’s economic development. After the last six years of dozens of new restaurant, deli, grocery store, frozen yogurt and boutique openings, what else does anyone actually expect to move in now?

The premier retail space in the TIF is currently being converted from a furniture store to a financial firm, so it’s highly doubtful one of the coveted mall brands that Larry Ryles promised to get us if he won (Urban Outfitters, Forever 21) would see the space left between there and Jack & Jill (or the old Pines) as attractive, no matter how much money one could throw at the sales pitch.

Honestly, is anyone defending the EDTF recommendations working off an actual set of calculations or targeted predictions or is this pure wishful thinking? Is it as simple as seeing an empty lot where a car dealership used to be (and ignoring its environmental issues) and thinking “I could see a Crate & Barrel fitting there, if only we had someone who could convince them that being sandwiched between a park, a pool, train tracks, condos and houses was a desirable location”?

The one point the EDTF report contained that seemed reasonable was to NOT give landlords incentives to leave their storefronts empty. What legal avenues the city could take to pursue this I don’t know, but at least the concept is operating in an area of economic theory (supply/demand) that is actually based in reality.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[I]f only we had someone who could convince them that being sandwiched between a park, a pool, train tracks, condos and houses was a desirable location.” THAT’S why Park Ridge needs a 30-second t.v. spot during the next Super Bowl!

I’ll say it again. The post wasn’t cheering the TIF, it was just pointing out the absurd bragging about businesses coming here by posters here, while not attributing it to the “albatross” (TIF) that brought many here!

Mariano’s filled another business spot, so settle down about that one as well.

Also, can the editor admit that the lack of increased property value in the TIF district contributes significantly to the TIF debt? Reading this discussion is bothersome, because it’s almost that the plaque people (who control the city) want to keep people out of Park Ridge but will hide behind EMB’s or no ED, or whatever else to get off their lawn. That crowd has a strange old pride that hurts the city and increases our taxes.

If property values increased than the TIF debt would be lessened.
That’s the equation.

Lastly, isn’t Frimark the guy who talked about the “bedroom community” idea? EEEK.
Careful who’s term you get in bed with.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most people who seem to have a problem with the Uptown TIF, including the editor of this blog, don’t beef about the building itself but about how the City Council let PRC have its way with the City and jackpotted it economically to the point where $20 million-plus surpluses have been replaced with $20 million-plus deficits.

Back in the Wietecha/Marous/Frimark giddy days of the TIF, nobody was bragging about getting such pedestrian occupants as Houlihan’s, or a Noodles, or a Jos. A. Banks. But we must have missed the guaranty Dominick’s gave the City when it was closing down, that Mariano’s would fill the space. Can you send us your copy?

This editor is not now, and will never be, a “plaque” person. But those folks didn’t screw the City: former mayors Wietecha and Marous, and their complicit councils did that by TIF-ing an area that didn’t satisfy the TIF “but for” test, and then formed a cock-eyed “partnership” with PRC that required the City to issue multi-millions in bonds with no guaranteed return on that “investment.”

But don’t take our word for it: read our 02.14.13 post and the Kane McKenna TIF report.

Even Howard Frimark can get something right every decade or two.

I seeeee… WF coming to PR is some magical dividing line. After that point we are supposed to completely disregard everything Mayor Dave stated and put in writing regarding ED and the “economic development/marketing professional”. He does not en have to utter a word. He is completely absolved of all responsibility for anything he said prior to WF coming. We must have dreamed the entire thing. “Ya se what I meant was “The new City Manager and I DON”T agree that it is appropriate to make an investment in an economic development/marketing professional”……yeah!! That’s the ticket!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can disregard anything you want, or not. All that matters to us, in the end, is how he votes.

If people like you think he was lying, nothing will change your mind – including the way Whole Foods came in without any ED or any bribes, the way Mariano’s came in without any ED or any bribes, etc.

Even if, for the sake of argument, Hamilton is RIGHT on the need for an ED, his memo selling that idea was an embarrassment that would have gotten him reprimanded in the real world of the private sector.

Let’s quit beating around the bush to prove a point.

We have a huge TIF Debt because the taxes it is getting is LESS in value than planned for. Agreed????????

Well only way to fix that is….to INCREASE value of said area
So it’s not only “sales tax” dollars as it keeps getting pounded by bedroom community freaks.
One would deduct that by not having empty land or empty buildings the values would INCREASE!!

Is anything above not true? Kane McKenna says it is.

Therefore this council chooses for us the taxpayer to pay our way out of debt in the most expensive way, instead of helping us grow out of it. So thank the 4 council members for sticking it to you.

So get your heads out of the sand. The bedroom community freaks are lying to you to protect their phobias.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ll need a crowbar to extricate yours. Even the residential real estate in the Uptown TIF isn’t meeting expectations, and the commercial – with the recent Schwab for Amphora deal – is horribly underperforming. Are you still running plays (the “T” formation, the single wing) from the 20th Century Uptown Advisory Task Force playbook?

Re: the Economic Development Director position…

I did speak at the budget meeting regarding the City Manager’s proposal. I said that I was not keen on the idea of a FT director with benefits and an unknown marketing budget on top of that which could run the tab up to $150k or more. The City Manager was directed to go back and come up with a Plan B which would entail something along the lines of a PT marketing person or possibly outsourcing the function with a total budget closer to the previously-anticipated $40k. I eagerly await Plan B.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re still waiting for a legitimate, non-moronic Plan A.

“If people like you think he was lying, nothing will change your mind – including the way Whole Foods came in without any ED or any bribes, the way Mariano’s came in without any ED or any bribes, etc”.

I never said he was lying. I just pointed out what he said and expressed that he should be included along with the CM and “chambers” in your bashing.

WF, Marianos and bribes have ZERO to do with his stated position and whether or not he is “lying”.

I have the answer that I was looking for as I can see above that the Mayor has posted on this thread and appears to still see a need for this position, albeit a “lite” version.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, you didn’t “say” it: you merely implied it. But since he has written about waiting for Hamilton’s next meandingful revelation, we’re content to suggest that he’d be better off waiting for Godot.

I am AMAZED at what stories from the HA jump out and grab you for a topic. Actually I am AMAZED at what stories you passed over (at least for now) to pick this one.

How about the projected 16% hike in the tax levy??? Now there is a kick in the pants!!

How about the unsigned police grant application?? Now there is an example of elected officials and staff working together.

Oh well…I guess it is a target rich environment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s such a “target rich environment” that we could write a post a day…if we didn’t hold down real jobs that require real performance but don’t provide annual non-merit based salary increases or defined-benefit pensions guaranteed by the Illinois constitution that can be taken as early as at age 55 or 60.

We will wait until the budget process gets a little more refined before we post on any tax levy hike, because 16% appears no closer to reality than the 11% one was a year or two ago.

But a post about the “unsigned police grant application” may be up as early as tomorrow.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Of course when the 16% increase in the tax levy ends up being reduced to 2-3% by December, we’ll have hoards of anti-Schmidt goons on here claiming that whatever “austerity measures” were necessary to achieve it are destroying the town (and the free world for that matter). Maybe the historical society will have to find private means to raise the $4K for their plaques and the library will have to go to referendum if they want more funding.

In keeping with the ED theme of this thread, did anyone catch Ald. Smith’s suggestion about forming a “commission” of local business owners with “clout” rather than a paid postion? I kind of like the idea… maybe the EDTF can get the band back together or the CoC will step up with some clout of its own to help assist interested parties in filling those empty storefronts. When they have a lot more to gain than the average taxpayer, I don’t see why they shouldn’t do some of the legwork.

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